The husband of former Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has been arrested as part of an investigation into the funding of the governing pro-independence Scottish National Party, the BBC said on Wednesday.
Police Scotland said a 58-year-old man had been “arrested as a suspect” and its officers were carrying out searches at a number of addresses linked to the investigation.
Peter Murrell, 58, who stood down as the chief executive of the governing pro-independence party last month, was taken into police custody on Wednesday morning, the BBC said.
Police Scotland said they were carrying out searches at a number of addresses as part of the investigation. A marked police van could be seen outside the couple’s home in Glasgow, which was sealed off with blue and white police tape, and a blue tent had also been put up outside.
“The man is in custody and is being questioned by Police Scotland detectives,” the force added.
The police investigation is looking at what happened to more than 600,000 pounds ($748,920) raised by Scottish independence campaigners in 2017, which was supposed to have been ring-fenced for spending on that issue but was missing from party’s filed accounts.
The SNP said it would not be appropriate to comment on any live police investigation but the party has been cooperating with the probe. The Scottish government said it was a matter for the party.
Talking to reporters after news broke, Scotland’s First Minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf called the development “challenging” and said that he wanted to reassure SNP members on the issues of transparency and party finances.
“The news this morning, it’s challenging and it’s difficult,” he said.
The arrest and ongoing investigation comes after a bruising few months for the SNP, which has dominated Scottish politics for most of the last two decades.
Murrell, who had run the SNP for more than two decades, resigned last month after accepting blame for misleading the public about a plunge in the number of party members.
Sturgeon also stood down as the leader of Scotland’s semi-autonomous government last month after eight years in power, saying she had become too divisive to lead the nation to independence.
Her successor, Yousaf, narrowly won a bitterly-fought leadership contest which exposed deep divisions over how to achieve independence and other policy issues.
The SNP said its governing body had agreed at a meeting on Saturday to a review of the party’s governance and transparency which would be taken forward in the coming weeks.
In a referendum in 2014, Scots rejected ending the more-than 300-year-old union with England by 55% to 45%. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union two years later when a majority of Scots wanted to stay, and Scotland’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic brought new support for independence.
($1 = 0.8012 pounds)